Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Beautiful Face

I stared at the picture on the back of the truck. The faces of a man and woman encouraging me to apply for work as an ice cream salesperson.

It's hard to take a face seriously when they are everywhere.
A face is a powerful image.

The same face was looking at me from the back page ad in the magazine I was reading this morning. A stock photo! Of course! And here I had been lured into wondering if this gentile face of a 20-something woman was happy in her work. See how gullible I am? I began to imagine that because she was so good at ice cream, they had taken her picture as a reward!

We all value a beautiful face.
This magazine just helped me apply the magic of make-up to my 44 year old face. A face that has seen better days and that will gather more history that may or may not be interesting to those who greet me. Because isn't a face an introduction? Doesn't it tell us Right Now whether a person is desirable? Well, I wanna play! So I pamper the face. As my daughter and I say in unison, "Make-up is my friend"

And like all of us, I struggle to drop out of the game. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of being shallow. I'm tired of shallowness. So I do my best and forget the rest.
I've been working on a poetry zine for Freedom Day. It's a mild publication of a heavy subject. I worry that it's not attractive enough. Will people buy a copy?
I made an art quilt to show on Freedom Day. What will they think? Is it pretty? Does it look good? Why do I need it to?
I think I need it to because we value beauty. Often beauty comes from a mixture of grace and pain. And we value the coating of beauty rather than the essence of beauty. I struggle with it.
I have been praying for courage lately. I ask all my friends to pray courage for me. It takes courage to value essential beauty, the kind that is of substance rather than a passing glance. I think of Henri Nouwen who studied the Rembrandt painting for a year as the copy hung in his office. Out of his long gaze came a fruitful insight.
The value of a face is the value of the life it invites us to love.
Love, Come to us and deepen our love of Beauty.

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